Making a difference in the lives of others is both a passion and a duty for Kyle James.
The 28-year-old, of Devonshire, is a “big brother” to nine-year-old Quilahn Richardson.
They met about a year ago through the Big Brothers Big Sisters Bermuda mentoring programme and immediately bonded over a shared love of sports. “I never knew what impact I could have in someone’s life,” Mr James said. “I’ve been able to build an in-depth relationship with Quilahn.”
Mr James now wants to encourage others to “recognise the power in each of us to make a difference.
“If we all just start making small differences, it will produce results in time,” he said. “We have it in our hands to make a lasting impact.”
Mr James always wanted to join the charity dedicated to helping children and youth, primarily from single parent homes, realise their potential by developing long-term one-to-one relationships.
But he felt he could not fully commit to the programme until he finished his studies and was back on the Island.
Mr James said he chose Quilahn to be his “little brother” because of his personality, realising as soon as he read his profile that this was “the kid I wanted to chill with”.
A self-professed sports fan and fitness aficionado, Mr James said Quilahn’s passion for sports immediately stood out.
The pair, who met for the first time on Mr James’s birthday, have a blast doing outdoor activities, as well as watching Chelsea football matches.
Quilahn especially enjoyed attending the America’s Cup event with his “big brother”.
“It’s really just trying to do stuff that is active,” Mr James said.
“I feel happy every day I go to him,” Quilahn said. “He does a lot of fun things with me. He is a nice man — he makes me proud.”
He added that Mr James’s friendship has also helped him cope with the loss of his father, who was fatally shot in 2007, and that Mr James is a role model to him. Quilahn has also visited Mr James at his fitness classes and Mr James has helped him with his school projects. Together they worked on a science project and Quilahn won second place.
“He has a lot of passions,” Mr James said of his “little brother”. “I think he has the aptitude to be someone really big in Bermuda, really influential.”
He added that Quilahn’s determination in furthering his education also makes him happy.
“Through me helping him, he’s going to know the value of helping others,” Mr James said.
But helping others has long been a priority for Mr James.
Among his many achievements, he has taken part in Operation Hunger in Namibia and volunteered with Habitat for Humanity in South Africa. And through his college fraternity he helped start an after-school programme and fought to raise awareness for safe sex practices.
Mr James credits his drive with having been very fortunate growing up; he had both his parents, who wanted him to be the best person he could be, and was given the opportunity to travel.
“Being able to see the world and how privileged we are in Bermuda was an eye-opener,” he said. “You just get an appreciation for the things you have.”
Mr James said he felt a passion and a duty to give back to the communities that helped him have such fantastic experiences.
But he knew there was also a need back home and decided that he would prioritise making a difference in his own community.
He now hopes to encourage others to do the same.
“If you do have the passion, assess honestly if you can set aside a couple of hours a week,” he said.
“Commit to it. You don’t have to be perfect. You don’t have to have everything together to actually help.
“In a position of influence, we can really make or break the next generation. They are the future of this Island.
“We just have to keep the role models there so they know what positive actions and positive energies to emulate.”
For more information about Big Brothers Big Sisters Bermuda visit www.bbbs.bm or call 232-2802